Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Acquiring a new concept is not explicable-by-content

Nicholas Sheaa1

a1 Faculty of Philosophy and Somerville College, Philosophy Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 4JJ, United Kingdom. [email protected]


Carey's book describes many cases in which children develop new concepts with expressive power that could not be constructed out of their input. How does she side-step Fodor's paradox of radical concept nativism? I suggest that it is by rejecting the tacit assumption that psychology can only explain concept acquisition when it occurs by rational inference or other transitions that are explicable-by-content.

(Online publication May 19 2011)